Genderqueer is a gender identity. A genderqueer person is someone who identifies as a gender other than "man" or "woman," or someone who identifies as neither, both, or some combination thereof. In relation to the gender binary (the view that there are only two genders), genderqueer people generally identify as more "both/and" or "neither/nor," rather than "either/or." Some genderqueer people see their identity as one of many different genders outside of man and woman, some see it as a term encompassing all gender identities outside of the gender binary, some believe it encompasses binary genders among others, some may identify as a-gender and some see it as a third gender in addition to the traditional two. The commonality is that all genderqueer people reject the notion that there are only two genders in the world. The term genderqueer is also occasionally used more broadly as an adjective to refer to people who are in some way gender-transgressive, and could have any gender identity (see Alternative Meanings, below).
Related Gender Issues
Androgyny, Intergender, Bigender, Third Gender, Neuter/Neutrois/Agender, Gender Fluid may also be used to describe where one lies on a gender spectrum or in gender spheres (outside the normal binary genders).
Genderqueer and Transgender
Some queer people identify as transgender, using the word as an umbrella term for a broad range of people who identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth based on their perceived physical sex, and some do not. The two terms are not equivalent, but they do overlap. Genderqueer people may transition physically with surgery, hormones, electrolysis, and other practices, or they may not choose to alter their bodies by these means. They may also transition socially, or they may continue to dress and go by the pronouns of their assigned gender. There is no one way for a person to be genderqueer.
History of the Term
The term genderqueer originated as an identity for mainly white, middle and upper-class Americans who were born female or are otherwise on the FtM (female-to-male) or transmasculine spectrum, but there are also many self-identified genderqueer people who are from different racial, ethnic, class, gender, and national backgrounds. However, people who identify as genderqueer are still disproportionately from that group.
Gender and Pronouns
How genderqueer people view gender as a whole and its relationship to themselves varies. Some genderqueer people view gender as a continuum between man and woman, with the two traditional genders at the two poles and their own genderqueer place as somewhere within the continuum. Others believe there are as many genders as there are people. Still others believe that binary gender is a social construct, and choose not to adhere to that construct. Some genderqueers do fit into the stereotypical gender roles expected of their sex, but still identify outside of that and reject a two-pole gendered system. Some genderqueers experience their gender as fluid, varying from day to day or year to year. Some genderqueer people reject any gender system as a valid method of classifying individuals.
Some genderqueers prefer to go by the conventional binary pronouns "he" or "she," while others prefer gender-neutral pronouns such as "ze", "per", "zir", "sie" and "hir", "zhe", "hir", "zes" or singular "they" instead of her/his. Some genderqueer people prefer to have people alternate between he and she (and/or gender neutral pronouns) in reference to them, and some prefer the use only of their name and no pronouns at all. Some genderqueers may also change their names to less stereotypically gendered names, and may request (or campaign for) a gender neutral title such as "Mx" in place of "Mr", "Mrs", "Ms" or "Miss".[How to reference and link to summary or text]
The term pansexual exists specifically in reference to the understanding of there being many genders, rather than "bisexual," which implies only two genders and sexes. Pansexuality means being attracted to or open to attraction to people of many different gender identities, and reflects a non-binary understanding of gender and its interplay with sexuality.
Note: Some people see "genderqueer" as a more consciously politicized version of the term androgyne, popularized by Androgyne Online, which is linked below. Androgynes are also people who identify as both man and woman, or as neither.
The term genderqueer is also sometimes used in a broader context as an adjective to refer to any person who challenges gender roles and binary notions of gender. This is similar to the way homosexual, bisexual, and other people may identify as queer as a broader, umbrella term. However, because genderqueer also refers to a more specific gender identity, the terms gender variant, gender transgressive, or gender non-conforming are more appropriate to refer to the wide range of people who do not fit into rigid binary gender boxes.